Resiliency, safety, risk reduction, substance abuse, sexual assault and other topics were presented in a humorous format to Sailors aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville during a destructive behavior workshop June 12.
Comedian Bernie McGrenahan uses stand-up comedy, with a powerful message.
“How many of you have to be here?” McGrenahan asked as he opened his presentation at Dewey’s. As the hands went up, he said, “A mandatory comedy show - that makes me feel good.”
McGrenahan shared his experiences and joked about bad decisions, while engaging the audience. He spoke about using fake IDs and friends, which are high-risk factors and getting a DUI arrest.
“What I spent at the bar that night - $35 was nothing compared to what I paid with my reputation being damaged, my honor and integrity.”
McGrenahan continued with destructive behaviors and had two DUIs by the age of 19. He was deeply affected by a family member’s suicide and discusses how to assist when you have concerns with a possibly suicidal person.
“Suicide should never be an option for you. You are important to your family and if you ever see a fellow Sailor down, ask if they are ok,” he said.
Two of the show’s main underlying messages were that asking for help is a sign of courage not of weakness, and that asking for help should never be stigmatized.
“I don’t know what it’s like to wear the uniform,” he said, “but I pray that you never hurt yourselves because you don’t want to ask for help. Secrets keep us sick.”
Numerous Sailors in attendance said they appreciated a different kind of approach for the training.
“This was a very meaningful message and it was so much better than just looking at a bunch of slides,” said OS2 Noal White of Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s 1st Lieutenant Division.
McGrenahan gave away copies of a book during the show titled, “I Killed,” which is a collection of stories from comedians with true road stories. His personal story is about performing in Bosnia in 1998 on a hilltop with 20 men.
McGrenahan is now 29 years sober and has been doing comedy since 1988. His comedy show. “With a Message” has been presented to more than 300 military bases worldwide the last 11 years.